Philip Yancey has a way of confronting our most cherished but misguided notions about faith. In The Bible Jesus Read, he challenges the perception that the New Testament is all that matters and the Old Testament isn't worth taking the time to read and understand.
Yancey admits that, like many Christians, he usually avoided the Old Testament. After all, why bother with writings that can be so baffling, boring, even offensive to the modern mind?
But a surprising discovery awaited Yancey when he began to explore how the Old Testament related to his life today. Those seemingly irrelevant Hebrew Scriptures took on a startling immediacy, portraying a passionate relationship between God and people against a backdrop of human experience. Like nothing else, the Old Testament depicts the cries, the complaints, the deep, insistent questionings of the heart, the stuff of life we all must contend with.
With his candid, signature style, Yancey interacts with the Old Testament from the perspective of his own deeply personal journey. From Moses, the amazing prince of Egypt, to the psalmists' turbulent emotions and the prophets' oddball rantings, Yancey paints a picture of Israel's God--and ours--that fills in the blanks of a solely New Testament vision of the Almighty.
I've become more partial to the Old Testament in recent years, but Yancey has made me fall head over heels in love. The rawness of the ancient Hebrews crying out to God for answers, and the rawness of God crying out to his people to love Him and return to Him....those are emotions I can relate to. There are no easy answers in the OT. Stories are confusing and sometimes awful. People rant and rave against God, then rejoice and praise Him in the next breath. It seems nonsensical, and maybe it is. But isn't life just the same?
My attitude toward God can drastically alter in the space of one sentence or one event or one discovery. Sometimes I wonder if He really exists. Sometimes I want to shout from the rooftops how good He is to me. Sometimes I can't bother to care one way or the other. All of that is also in the OT.
I particularly liked Yancey's close-up look at both Job and Ecclesiastes. And I especially loved the last chapter that bridges the yearnings and questions of the OT with the answers found in the person of Jesus in the NT. Why does suffering exist? God never answers this. Instead, He sent His son Jesus to live on earth, suffer for us and suffer with us, to show that God cares. And really, I would rather know that God cares about me while I suffer than to know why suffering exists at all.
God is deeply interested in relationship. I used to think this was a primarily NT idea. Not at all! God's presence and desire for intimacy with His people screams throughout the pages of the Bible. I'm so grateful that Yancey made me aware.
Five out of five searching questions.
Release Date: August 1999
Reading Level: Grade 8+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently in Dunlap's library.